The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors 123-109 on Tuesday night. Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds despite having a sore hamstring, which he injured in the team’s final preseason game coming off the bench. Westbrook started on Tuesday night, but was asked if coming off the bench contributed to his injury.
“Absolutely,” Westbrook said when asked about the role change. “I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight. Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. For me, obviously the way I play the game, it’s fast-paced, quick, stop-and-go. And I just happened to, when I subbed in, I felt something. Thought it was … didn’t know what it was, but I wasn’t going to risk it in a preseason game. But definitely wasn’t something I was used to. Wasn’t warm enough. But that’s something I just wasn’t accustomed to.”
I asked Russell Westbrook if he thought coming off the bench contributed to his hamstring injury in Sacramento. "Absolutely," he said, noting his routine was way off and that he didn't know what to do pregame or how to stay warm.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) October 19, 2022
TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley said it’s time for the Lakers to trade Westbrook and that the team has taken the joy out of basketball for Westbrook.
“It’s time for the Lakers to move him,” Barkley said on TNT. “They have taken all his joy out of life and basketball. … He doesn’t look … this guy used to be so exuberant, play with great energy and great emotion. I think the wear and tear mentally, last year, starting this year, playing with Patrick Beverley … and the thing is he’s going to get the blame no matter what because the Lakers aren’t a championship contender.
"It's time for the Lakers to move on… They have taken all his joy out of life and basketball."
Chuck goes off on Russell Westbrook with the Lakers pic.twitter.com/ktevt7J0ns
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 19, 2022
The Lakers were bad on Tuesday night, but this wasn’t something you can lay at Westbrook’s feet. It’s the first game of 82, so there is no need to panic, and they lost to the defending champs.
All the Lakers players were net negatives, but of the players who played 20 or more minutes he had the second-best plus/minus. Single game plus/minus is a very noisy stat, but when he was on the floor the Lakers did not do that poorly.
The team attempted 40 threes and only made 10. The Warriors, by contrast, made 16. The Lakers were outscored by 18 from the three point line, in many ways that was the game. The Lakers’ threes were good looks and a lot of them open, they just missed. Westbrook only made three attempts from deep, connecting on one.
First year head coach Darvin Ham said Westbrook was solid during the game. If Westbrook is solid most nights and every so often good to very good, he will be a value add to the team this season.
“You know, man, I’m super blessed and leaning a lot on my faith,” Westbrook said. “So, I have a lot of great friends and family, good people in my corner that support me through thick and thin, and when I have God in my corner, it doesn’t really matter what happens outside of that. I stay on course, stay focused, stay locked in. That’s all I can ask.”
For now Westbrook is a member of the Lakers and he will play the game the only way he has during his 14-year career.